Does anyone grow perennial sunflowers?

lavender_lass(4b)July 17, 2010

I've seen perennial sunflowers for sale and I wondered if anyone has grown these? If they're reliable, I think they might be the answer for my short growing season.

By the time the sunflowers get going, it's almost time for frost. I'd like to put more sunflowers, geraniums and lavender into the potager/kitchen garden. I'm really liking the theme in the garden (although I'm not sure if it's mediterranean, provence or "other" LOL), but I need something with a little height.

Anyone growing these? Any other suggestions? Always looking for new ideas...and the more weeds I pull, the more room I find for other plants :)

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I haven't grown them myself but would love to find a spot for them. They seem to be very prolific for folks who have them in their yards around here.

While it's not recommended, I have with success started sunflowers under lights and then transplanted them to my garden. That would get them blooming faster. I'm going to do that next year since the birds only left me 3 seeds to sprout and grow this year. They must have be watching me plant and as soon as I left, they had dinner. I also do dwarf sunflowers and they bloom earlier and profusely.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 11:31AM
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susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

I started these dwarf sunflowers inside under lights. I think it works because they are in individual 5-inch pots. They weren't transplanted at all. Maybe you could start regular sunflowers in a very large peat pot?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 3:27PM
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lily51(OH 5)

Annual sunflowers grow profusely here in Ohio. Can plant by seed in June and still get blooms, plus there are always volunteers that surprise you the next year.

However, last year my two granddaughters wanted to start sunflowers in my greenhouse, so we did just because they love them. The sunflowers did fine and transplanted okay, so I would say try it if your growing season is short. But they grow very fast in a greenhouse, so plan accordingly.

Provence, sunflowers and dream vacation some day!

lavender lass...We were in Seattle and visited WA bulbs and were amazed. Do you grow lots of bulb flowers in the spring? Wish those would grow longer, as I love the tulips and daffodils.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 6:41AM
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tcahalan(z6 TN)

I have two clumps of perennial sunflowers and really love them. They don't give exactly the same look as an annual one, though - looser looking. I have one clump in full sun and it grows nicely upright, but the one I have in part shade is a flopper -- I don't mind it so much because when the stems lean over they also send flower stalks up vertically from the horizontal stem and I get a second flush of flowers. Let me know if you want pictures and I'll get some -- they are in full bloom right now. I also grow a tall Rudbeckia with interesting quills - Henry Eilers. Here's a link to a souce I found. Love it, too. Good luck! Tina
PS One other thought -- Jerusalem Artichoke -- I have never grown them, and hear they can be invasive if you don't dig up the roots and eat them - but it might be a nice ornamental/edible option.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rudbeckia subtomentosa 'Henry Eilers'

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 11:43AM
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That's true about the Jerusalem artichokes. I visited a local re-created colonial garden this weekend. Half of the back fence line were Jerusalem artichokes. They hadn't bloomed yet, but it's got me thinking....

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 5:08PM
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HerbLady49(Z6 PA)

I'm so glad your interested in growing the perennial Sunflowers. You'll get more activity from birds and butterflies than you will with the annual varieties.
They are all US Natives and can be easily grown from seed, and they make excellent long lasting cut flowers.

HELIOPSIS helianthoides
"Perennial Sunflower"

Blooms July  September, 3-4 feet tall Bright yellow 4" flowers. One of my favorite cut flowers. The gold finches love the seeds.


HELIANTHUS mollis "Downy Sunflower"

Blooms August  September, 20-40 inches tall, Lemon yellow 4" flowers.
Downy Sunflower is an attractive plant, whether in or out of bloom. It can be readily distinguished from other sunflowers by the fine soft hairs that heavily cover both the leaves and stems. Native Downy Sunflower is often found growing in colonies and prefers average to rich, well drained soil and full sun. Native sunflowers are excellent nectar food source for butterflies and songbirds.

Helianthus microcephalus "Small Wood Sunflower"

Blooms August - September, 5 feet tall, Zone 4 Â 8,

Habitat - Prefers moist soils in full sun, but is tolerant of drought and light shade.

HELIANTHUS grosserserratus
"Saw-tooth Sunflower"

Blooms August  September, 10-15 feet tall Bright yellow 3" flowers.

This Helianthus is a giant. It grows about 15 feet in my garden, but I have excellent soil. The gold finches love this plant. It makes a wonder privacy screen.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 7:42PM
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Great info, herblady! Thanks for posting all of those different varieties. I never realized how tall some of the varieties can get.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2010 at 4:15PM
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I realize this post is about perennial sunflowers, but the suggestion of Jerusalem Artichokes was a wake up call for me. On the east side of my house, where I have yet to actually plant anything, there is a huge (15 x 4 deep ft) patch of "really pretty weeds". I remember a friend telling me they are Jerusalem Artichokes, but didnt think twice about it, and had no idea they had edible tubers. I have left them there because they filled in so nicely and I havent been ready to deal with that side of the yard. They are in mostly shade, grow 5-6 ft. and right now are full of lovely sunflower-like blooms. We brought in a big bouquet yesterday. I just googled them and found recipes. I will try digging a few up and eating them. - I love this site ! I learn something every day - thanks

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 8:14AM
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Herblady- Is the Small Wood Sunflower the only one hardy to zone 4? I think they're all very pretty and now I do want to get some for next year :)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2010 at 12:00PM
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HerbLady49(Z6 PA)

I did some research, and found that they're all hardy in zone 4.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 1:14PM
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Herblady- Thank you :)

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 2:06PM
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gwenb(7 WA)

Be careful eating the jerusalem artichokes. I had some in a cooking class. While the dish was delicious, it about put me in the hospital. To put it delicately, they cause 'wind.' More like a tornado or hurricane tho. LOL

I love the perennial sunflowers and am dying for some. Maybe next year! I didn't realize that jerusalem artichokes had such a pretty yellow flower.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 4:01PM
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